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IAAF World Championships, Osaka - Women's Marathon

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Mara and Tracey

2 September 2007

 

Despite the testing conditions and top class opposition, GB & NI’s two representatives in the women’s marathon both produced fine runs to record top 20 finishes.


Mara Yamauchi (Harrow AC/Second Wind AC) placed 9th in 2:32:55 and Tracey Morris (Valley Striders) was 19th in 2:36:40 in weather that was not ideal, but perhaps not as bad as feared.  The field set out at 7am in cloudy conditions, with temperatures of 27.5˚ and 74% humidity.

The sun did eventually emerge and the temperature touched upon 30˚ in the closing stages, but the humidity fell by as much as 10%.  Thousands of supporters lined the route, which for much of the way was three or four people deep in this marathon-mad country.

Oxford-born Yamauchi made a bold bid for glory from the outset. Indeed she actually led at 30k, where she injected some pace as the course rounded Osaka Castle.

 

But soon after, the effort told on the Oxford-born runner and she was cut adrift from the lead pack of eight. However, she maintained her form superbly to hang on to ninth, an improvement of nine places on her result at the Helsinki World Championships two years ago.

In her first marathon since last year’s European Championships, Morris ran more conservatively. At the halfway stage she was 31st in 1:18.02. But as the heat and humidity told, several athletes fell by the wayside and the Welsh athlete picked her way through.

 

She entered the stadium alongside local hero Yumiko Hara (Japan), winner of this year’s Osaka Marathon and though she was just beaten in the sprint finish, both were given the same time.

 

Catherine Ndereba (Kenya), silver medallist behind Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in 2005 and gold medallist in 2003, regained her title, winning in 2:30:37, just eight seconds clear of this year’s London Marathon winner Zhou Chunxiu (China) with Japan’s Reiko Tosa taking bronze in 2:30.55.

Afterwards, Yamauchi said: “I felt like I was jogging for the first 25k. I felt really in control. Every big race, I’m just 5th, 4th, 3rd, whatever. I’ve never actually won a big race. I thought I’ve got to give it a try and this is a big chance for me because I live in Japan and I’m in good shape.

 

“I think I’m scared of the other top runners, so I’m just going to go for it. I shouldn’t be scared of them. I felt really strong around the castle and I put in a bit of pace going down that first steep hill and I was in front. I thought about putting in a surge around the castle because that is often where this race is decided.

 

“It was like that in the men’s race and it was like that in the women’s race in January (Osaka Marathon). I thought it was my big chance, so I have to try, but I kind of died a bit after that.  But the gap didn’t get bigger for a quite a while. So I just thought ‘don’t panic, people will come back to me’. But they didn’t.

 

“The gap was getting bigger. One of the Kenyan girls did come back to me at the end. But the gap was just a bit too big.”  As for the future, she said: “I really do believe I have got a big PB in me. I’d like to get down to 2:23 at least. I’m 34 now, I might not have that many more years left, I want to get my PB down a bit further and I really want to win a big marathon.”

 

Morris, who turns 40 next week, said: “Delighted with that. In those conditions. I tried to put it all into this day. Even though it felt comfortable early on, I thought ‘I’m going to pay for this somewhere along the line. Should I ease back even more?’ Judging by the men’s marathon, but no and I’m absolutely delighted.

 

“I was on my own for a lot of it. I was a little bit in ‘no man’s land’, because I hadn’t run a marathon this year. I didn’t really know where I was fitness-wise. My training has gone extremely well. I’ve managed to increase the miles. I’ve worked really hard the last 12-16 weeks.

“But I’ve not done a marathon this year to compare, so with the weather conditions and the humidity, I really didn’t know where I was. So I really just had to go with how I felt and go by my own instincts. When I woke up this morning and saw clouds, I thought ‘Great!’ I think we had better conditions than the men.”

 

 

For more news and photographs from the 11th IAAF World Championships click here